Saturday, March 22, 2008

Family vs frugality: what would you do?

Background: My Dad went to the University of Arizona and has been a huge fan of their basketball team for as long as I remember. I always root for them because I know it's a big deal for my Dad, but I only follow them casually-- many years (like this one) I don't even know the names of any of their players. Anyway, Arizona made it to the NCAA tournament again this year-- not a surprise-- and their first game was in DC-- which is much more rare. My Dad had never seen Arizona play in the tournament in person before.

Dad: So Arizona's first-round game is at the Verizon Center in DC this Thursday night. I'm looking for tickets-- do you want to come with me and Mom?
Me (thinks): It would be kind of neat to see a live March Madness game, and to see Arizona in particular... if it's reasonably affordable. Like $25-$30 a ticket.
Me (says): Maybe-- how much do the tickets cost?
Dad: I think we can get them for $125 each.
Me (thinks): Yikes! No way.
Me (says): Nah... I'm sure it'd be fun, but at that price, I'm not really interested. Have fun, though!
Dad: Sure, okay.

An hour later...

Dad: It sounds like your Mom has a conflict and wouldn't be able to come to the Arizona game. If I pay for your ticket, would you want to come with me?
Me (thinks): Oh my. On the one hand it would be fun; on the other hand, I'd feel really bad about my parents buying me a $125 ticket, both on principle and because they have credit card debt that they need to pay down. But then again, if my Mom was going they'd be spending $250 anyway... but at least then she'd be getting something out of it; it's not fair to her to spend $250 on something she doesn't get to share. But I don't want to buy a $125 ticket! But if I say no, my Dad might not go by himself, since it sounds like he wants company-- and that'd be a shame, he's clearly very excited and I want him to take advantage of this rare opportunity and really enjoy it. I'm tempted to chip in $25, which is what I was willing to pay anyway, but that feels silly and cheap, and they'd still be spending $100 extra on me. I suppose I could pay a bit more; it's not my preference, but I want my Dad to be happy, and I can certainly afford it. Hmm...
Me (says): Sure, that sounds fun, I'll come. How about we split the cost of my ticket?

What would you have done? Have you been in a similar situation? Have you spent more money on a ticket than you otherwise would because it's a big deal to someone you care about? If they offer to pay for you, how do you react?

(By the way, Arizona lost, but we enjoyed the experience anyway.)


Zazzu said...

I think I would have paid for my entire ticket. I HATE having people pay my share.

What you did is fine, though, IMO. Sounds like your dad's happy about it.

Our experiences/memories are about the only things we take with us when we die, so it's worth it to spend some our hard-earned money on those. As long as we don't go nuts. :)

Anonymous said...

I think your choice was very gracious.

In the first place, obviously your dad wanted your company at the game. He clearly was happy to pay for a second (even if not a third) ticket to have you join him.

In the second place, if he could afford two tix for himself and your mom, obviously he's not going to suffer by purchasing two tickets, no matter who accompanies him.

In the third place, it would have been rude to turn him down, making you look (and feel) like an ungrateful brat. Offering to pay part of the cost makes you feel like you're not taking advantage of him but allows him to persuade you to join him at the game.

And in the fourth place, you'll have a great time.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm kind of a blunt person, especially with my family. I'd scold at my dad for spending money he didn't have on something he didn't absolutely need. But that's me...